1. Does your program accept International Medical Graduates? If so, how many are currently in the program?
Yes. Currently, 13 of our 35 residents for the 2010-2011 academic year are IMG's.
2. What are the minimum requirements for IMG's applying to the program?
We require that you have graduated from medical school within the last 10 years, passed the USMLE step 1 and 2 on the first attempt and be ECFMG certified. We require the results of your CSA and 3 supporting letters of recommendation as well as all items requested in the application from ERAS. If you have graduated within the last 1 - 4 years, observership is acceptable however if you've graduated within the last 5 - 10 years, U.S. clinical experience is required. Please refer to the following website for more information: www.aamc.org/eras.
3. What visa does your hospital sponsor?
We sponsor the J-1 visa only.
4. Is the Washington University Neurology program an integrated 4-year program?
A. Yes . if you match with our institution you will do your PGY1 year with us.
5. Are there further opportunities for fellowship and research at this institution?
A. Yes! In fact, 4 out of 7 graduates from our 2010 class accepted fellowships within the University.
6. How do I apply for residency and what is the application deadline?
A. We only accept applications through ERAS. Please review their website for further application information. ERAS' website is: www.aamc.org. We will not accept any application information directly. You must apply through ERAS. We will begin accepting applications September 1, 2010. The deadline for applications is October 31, 2010.
7. When do interviews generally take place?
A. Interviews begin in November and go through January. We interview Neurology applicants on Tuesdays. You will meet with the Internal Medicine group on Monday to learn about their program and then interview with Neurology on Tuesday.
8. What can I expect during a typical interview day?
A. After the Internal Medicine on Monday, you will be invited to join the Neurology residents and faculty at a welcome reception and then have dinner with the residents. Please feel free to ask questions about the program. On Tuesday you will interview with Neurology. An overview of the program will begin at 7:00am and the interviewing process will begin at 7:30am. You will also tour other parts of the campus. You are then invited to lunch with residents and faculty within the department. Your interview day should end around 1:30 - 2:00pm.
9. What are the USMLE Score Requirements?
A. We look at the ENTIRE application ~ just not the USMLE scores. However, we prefer to see the scores in the 90's on the first attempt. This is not to imply that if your scores are in the 80's that you will not be considered. We review the entire application.
10. What is the cut-off year for graduation?
A. 10 years
11. When does an IMG need to have their ECFMG certificate?
A. At the time you begin residency. You will need it in order to obtain a Missouri Medical License.
12. How many letters of recommendations do you require?
13. How many positions do we have?
14. How did you decide on your specialty?
I was fairly sure that I wanted to go into neurology from the time I entered medical school. I had been a neuroscience major as an undergraduate and while I don't like doing basic science research myself, I greatly enjoy learning the science on which the field of neurology is based. However, there are many people who enjoy neuroscience without enjoying neurology, so held my final decision to enter the field of neurology until I had done my clinical rotation. A few days into my rotation, I found that I enjoyed the strong, long-term relationships neurologist enjoyed with their patients and was not "depressed" by the patient's diseases or the degree to which they could be treated (a common complaint made by those who despise neurology). Another highly significant factor in my decision was that I seemed to get along best (e.g. thinking processes, sense of humor) with the neurology residents and faculty.
15. How did you prepare yourself for application to your chosen specialty?
Since only two weeks of neurology are required at my medical school, it was absolutely crucial that I did a sub-internship in neurology before interviewing in neurology. Otherwise, it would have been hard to justify that I truly had an interest in this field. While I don't think that it is mandatory, the two summers that I spent doing research in neurology was useful preparation.
16. Who wrote your letters of recommendation for your application?
I submitted 3 letters of recommendation-- two from professors of neurology and one from a professor of ob-gyn. One of the letters (in neurology) was from a professor with whom I had spent two summers doing research. From what others have told me, this is the strongest letter, most likely because this individual best knew me and my work. As long as you have at least one letter from neurology, I am not convinced that the letter writer's field of expertise is most important. I think it is crucial that the individual really knows you. While it might be useful to have a prominent neurologist at your institution write a letter for you, I believe that it is virtually useless if the letter does not indicate that he/she knows you. Another bit of advice-- individuals who have been around the institution and in academics longer tend to write better letters.
17. Which programs did you apply to and why?
Since I am interested in academic medicine, I applied to a lot of the "big name" academic institutions throughout the country. I initially applied to 16 institutions. At that point, I knew very little about these programs. Since there is very little printed information about programs, I found it most useful to talk to residents at my own institution to find out which programs they had applied to and strongly considered. While I received interviews at most of the places to which I had applied, I only ended up interviewing at 9 programs. I narrowed this down after realizing that there were areas of the country that I had no intention of moving to! Also, at this point, I had learned from residents that certain programs were known for being either too malignant or too disorganized, etc.
18. What kinds of questions did programs tend to ask you?
The most common questions I was asked included "Why did you choose neurology?" and "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" Also, interviewers asked me about my research. Most of the interviewers were very friendly and asked general, personal questions. I was not asked any neurology questions nor did I feel "pimped." However, in my "hardest" interview I was asked to present a patient I had seen on the neurology service.
19. What would you have done differently in applying?
If I had to apply to neurology programs again, I would definitely get my applications in sooner. It was difficult to get motivated to fill out all the paper applications for neurology programs, so I didn't get my applications in until mid to late October. I think it would have been more ideal to have applications in by early to mid September. Also, I should have started asking residents/ other applicants about programs before I actually filled out the applications. There were some programs I didn't realize were excellent until after the deadlines had passed. Conversely, I filled out a few applications to some big name schools before I found out they had notoriously poor programs, even bordering on not maintaining accreditation!
20. What was the most difficult part of the application process?
The most difficult part of applying to neurology was finding senior med students/ residents at my institution who I could ask questions about different programs. While I was initially intimidated about talking to residents, they were actually very friendly and excited to talk to me, especially because they don't find that many students who actually go into this field. Other than that, the most grueling part of the application process was the amount of time and money it cost to interview. The interviews turned out to be the easiest part!
21. What should I look for on my interview and tour day?
The most important thing to do on interview day is to talk to the residents to see if you get along with them well. After all, you will be working closely with these individuals. Next, the call schedule is important. These vary widely between institutions, especially in the PGY-3 & PGY-4 years. In neurology, it is especially important to find out how much time is spent in the inpatient and outpatient arenas. Unless you are have decided exactly what type of neurology you will practice, it is important to have training in both inpatient.
22. What questions should I ask of residents, faculty, and program directors?
I thought it was very important to find out how responsive the program director/ administration is to changes/ recommendations made by residents. There are some programs that are very responsive to the residents and others that treat the residents as low-level employees. Also, it thought it was very important that a program be flexible and have a lot of electives. I used the interview process as an opportunity to compare the requirements/electives at different programs and learn how to supplement the program into which I eventually matched. As I go along, I'm happy that I will have the opportunity to pick electives according to my interest, strengths, and weaknesses.
23. How did you form your rank list?
In the end, I based my rank list on geographical location, size of program, academic reputation, "friendliness" of the program/administration, and how well I got along with the residents. As I interviewed at programs, I had significant "pet peeves" about various programs-- some were too small, some were rigorous (in-house call all 3 years), some were too disorganized, some were in very undesirable locations. I eventually found two programs that I was extremely happy with and ranked them according to my geographical preference.
24. What other advice can you give seniors applying in your specialty?
The best advice is I could give to seniors interviewing in neurology programs is too appear enthusiastic and intellectual while also appearing "normal" and well-rounded. There are so many "nerds" (and I don't necessarily mean that in a negative way) that program directors get really excited when they meet someone who does more than just study!